In My Suitcase: Backpacker gear, yuppie-style

I never called myself a backpacker. I don’t wear a giant pack the size of a bodybag and roughing it in backpacker hostels or in train stations. I am really a fairly civilized traveler, hoisting my rollaboard and daypack and sleep in hotels with bathrooms attached. But it’s not because I’m a prissy, high-maintenanced individual but from years of travel experience that led me to believe luggage belonged on wheels and sleep was essential.

I’ve had inquiries about what “gear” I thus always bring with me on the more rugged trips (to warm areas) I embark on. The key: light and small. Here’s my list of what’s always in my suitcase.

Travelpro Suitcase. I’ve recently upgraded to the TravelPro Crew 7 series 22″ carry-on rollaboard. It is the largest possible carry-on size before some airlines start to make a fuss. It’s expandable, comes with lots of great pockets and the suit option in case you need a business travel case as well. It’s lightweight, and durable, which is important because I’ve had suitcases show up on the conveyer belt missing handles, wheels, etc. At the same time, the Travelpro isn’t so horribly expensive, so you won’t feel too guilty dragging it through dirt and muddy roads.

LLBean Documents Holder. The version I have is not a fancy leather one as pictured in the link, but I can’t seem to find my trusty red nylon document holder which zips shut that Jon bought for me for Christmas. This is a great way to store all your important documents, passports and money in one place when you’re going through immigration, and later in the hotel safe. I still transfer the passports and money into my waist belt (see previous blog entry about different types of hidden money pouches) when in transit, like on a train or bus.

hat4Hat. The hat is essential, and I bring at least two everywhere I travel (hence, my travel hats). This straw one I picked up in Florence and pulled off the nylon flowers; it cost 5 euros and can be crushed if you want, and damaged without much guilt. It goes well with the safari look and I’ve even worn it to weddings, though not for a while.

Headlamp. Yes, it looks geeky, but it is oh so useful, especially if you’re reading at night or on a train. Also perfect during power outtages at home and you’re trying to cook. The Petzl Tikka LED headlamp takes triple A batteries and stays bright for a very long time.

 Light daypack. This one packs nicely into a suitcase and holds a couple of books, water, sweatshirts, and everything you need for the day. There’s a pouch for a Camelbak bladder and an elastic cord to hold any towels or sweatshirts on the outside. (photo from REI)

 Giant scarf/ sarong. Doubles as a bedsheet, a towel, a picnic blanket, a sarong, a curtain. This one is 100% cotton from JCrew. My version is woven cotton that washes easily and dries quickly and has traveled the world extensively.

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